Opposition politician Alexei Navalny and Russian President Vladimir Putin are back in full swing.
According to Navalny, the palace on the Black Sea was built using “the biggest bribes in history” – funded by a number of Putin’s closest supporters and state-owned companies.
Navalny’s investigation, revealed in a video, describes the property as 39 times as large as Monaco.
– There is a separate state inside Russia. And in that state, there is only one irreplaceable tsar: Putin, Navalny says in the video.
But the president has denied that he owns the castle, which has its own casino, ice rink and winery.
Now the Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg comes on the scene. He tells the state news channel Mash Telgram that he owns the palace.
– I secured a deal with some creditors a few years ago, he says.
– Will be a hotel
Rotenberg explains that the castle will be an apartment hotel, and that it will be completed in a few years. The palace is worth about $ 1.3 billion, according to the Moscow Times. This corresponds to around NOK 11 billion.
– Now it is no longer a secret, says the businessman.
Rotenberg is a close childhood friend of Putin and his former judo partner. He is considered one of Russia’s richest.
Navalny, for his part, has pointed out that the same agencies that guard the palace act as bodyguards for the president.
He also claims that the castle is funded by close allies of Putin, among them Igor Sechin, head of the Russian oil giant Rosneft, and billionaire Gennady Timchenko
The Kremlin has stated that unnamed businessmen own the place.
Navalny has repeatedly stated that Putin has tried to kill him. He became acutely ill on board a plane in August last year, and was evacuated to a hospital in Germany.
Subsequently, experts from both Germany, France and Sweden have determined that he was poisoned with the neurotoxin Novitsjok.
It is a poison that has been used by the Russian authorities for many years.
President Vladimir Putin has denied that the Russian government was involved in the poisoning. Among other things, he has suggested that Navalny may have swallowed the poison himself, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.
In retrospect, it has turned out that he was poisoned via his underpants.
Navalny was arrested when he returned to Russia in early January, and is currently being held until February 15 for failing to comply with the requirement to report to the police on a regular basis following a previous conviction.
He himself points out that he did not have the opportunity to register as long as he was in Berlin as a result of the poisoning.
There have since been large demonstrations in Russia to get Navalny released. Earlier this week, 4,000 people were arrested during demonstrations in two cities, writes the BBC.
Last weekend, hundreds of thousands took to the streets, and new demonstrations are expected on Sunday.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden asked Putin to release Navalny.